Creating Career Ladder for QAs

25-minute Talk

Are you working for a company that has career ladders for other departments, but not QA? Learn why creating a "ladder" (aka job model) is so important for staff growth and retention.

Virtual Pass session


2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Thursday 24th


Room F1 - Track 1: Talks


QA Managers, Directors or other Leaders with performance management responsibilities.


  • Why create a QA "Career Ladder" or Job Model? (Also, "Why not")?
  • What does a QA Career Ladder look like?
  • How to create a QA Career Ladder
  • Rolling out changes / Communication Plans
  • Making ladders visible

The importance of job models for testers.

In many organizations, staff are told that the structure is "flat" or that promotion & growth opportunities come on an "as needed" basis ("business readiness" balanced with "employee readiness" = "mystery"). Creation of of a robust and visible career ladder can bring many positive impacts to the organization: both on the recruiting/hiring side and for employee retention. This is particularly true for testers, who need advocates for career growth and to be able to see where they are headed!

In this session we will discuss other impacts:

  • effective job descriptions
  • employee engagement
  • consistency with offers / pay equity & negotiation
  • upskilling QA staff
  • supporting managers in career coaching
  • feedback and performance reviews
  • and building alignment between strategy and individual impact at higher levels where autonomy is expected

People want feedback, and managers need a structure for coaching and recognition. Promotions are positive events at all companies, and impact Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts - a visible structure builds trust, which is required for inclusion (and can help eliminate biases).

We will go over samples of the structure that ladders should expose, which may be based on your company size: Levels (how many?), Titles (anchor around Senior), and what types of changes in responsibility & impact come with progression through the ladder. Build a ladder that scales with both your company and your staff. Let people know what's next! Get Exec. buy-in, align with other department leaders, message with HR/Recruiting partners, socialize with the team and then individually when QAs get placed into the new levels. Budget/compensation needs to be blessed (consult salary survey data), and there may be impacts to policies for performance reviews, interviews/hiring (should be assessing levels at that time - make clear in offer letters), etc. 

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